Amazing Facts On The Atari 2600

Written by: Zoe Adams
Reading time: 3 mins
Last updated: July 27, 2021

The Atari 2600 gaming console was originally released in 1977 under the name Atari Video Computer System (Atari VCS).

Atari 2600 Console

Can you remember the first video game you played?

I can remember playing on Pokémon Yellow and Spyro the Dragon. They’re my earliest memories.

Some of you may remember playing Pac-Man and Space Invaders on the Atari.

Atari was founded by Jack Tramiel on May 17, 1984, as Tramel Technology, Ltd., and was renamed Atari two months later.

The Atari 2600 was one of the most popular Atari consoles, so read on to find out more.

Atari 2600 on the Market

Atari 2600 on the Market

Originally named the Atari VCS (Video Computer Systems), the company sold over thirty million consoles alone.

Its branding changed to the Atari 2600 in November 1982.

It was the third programmable console to ever be produced – it pales in comparison to the amount that is out there now.

Not to name a few: XBOX, PlayStation and Nintendo.

The founder of Atari and the creator of Pong was Nolan Bushnell.

He sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million.

After the sale, Bushnell later went on to buy the Pizza Time Theater restaurant.

The Pizza Time Theater later became the popular Chuck E. Cheese diner.

Games on the Atari

Games on the Atari

With arcade games becoming incredibly popular in the ’70s, Atari released the game Home Pong (a smaller version of Pong) in 1975 on the American market.

However, this was delayed for a year, for legal reasons.

Home Pong was played on a cartridge and these were produced for three decades

The Atari VCS was released on September 11, 1977, with nine playable games.

They went onto release three incredibly popular games: Outlaw, Space War, and Breakout.

By this time, the console had been renamed the Atari 2600 and had 128 bytes of RAM.

Adventure was the first video game to contain an Easter Egg – hidden messages, and inside jokes.

In the case of the Atari, the Easter Egg was that when an object was placed in a certain area of the game, it revealed the program’s name.

For those wondering, the programmer for Adventure was Warren Robinett.

Competition and Success

Competition and Success

The competition arose in the form of Activision, a software producer who features in many of today’s video games such as the Skylanders franchise (2011, and still ongoing).

Activision had been started by four disheartened Atari programmers. To compete, Atari released Boxing, Checkers, Dragster, and Fishing Derby.

Not long after, Asteroids was produced to try and beat the success that Activision was having.

This lead Atari to also produce the new console – the Atari 5200. The 2600 was still cheaper and had good quality games, and still sold as well as the newer version.

The console later became even more popular, with successful games such as E.T. and Pac-Man – games that are still popular nowadays.

Atari was producing these games and consoles to battle against rival companies.

The best news they could have was that they were still selling. And fast. Even after the 5200 release, the Atari 2600 sold millions of copies in 1985.

The Atari 2600 was a popular console for fans of video games, but also popular for the producers. They even nicknamed the console “Stella”.

“Stella” still can be found and sold – they are still making money decades after its release.

Do you remember playing the Atari?

What are your favorite memories of video games? Let us know!

Leave A Comment


  1. William Cousert October 18, 2019

    I wonder if it would have been possible to create a successful E.T. game for the VCS, considering the limited hardware – only 128 bytes of RAM? I think anything would have been a huge disappointment.

  2. Jim September 29, 2019

    Indeed. And having played all of 30 seconds of it at a retro gaming convention a couple of years ago, I can understand the decision to do so….

  3. Brian May 21, 2019

    E.T for the 2600 was not a success.. In fact it was so bad that it has been blamed for the video game crash of ’83 and is commonly known as “one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming”. Atari themselves confirmed that at least 700,00 were dumped into landfill..